Avid charity fundraiser Stanley McIlroy (92) honoured at Buckingham Palace
A 92-year-old man from Belfast who has raised over £1m for charity has been awarded an MBE for his tireless work.
Together with Noreen, his wife of 59 years, Stanley McIlroy has raised a whopping £800,000 for Cancer Research UK, and another £200,000-plus for other charities.
Stanley, who was manager of Yardley cosmetics for 25 years, was presented with the award by Prince William at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace yesterday.
Speaking earlier this year, Stanley said: "It is a way of Cancer Research UK saying thank you and I accept it willingly. If Noreen and the people of east Belfast had not been behind me I would never have raised all the money."
Cancer Research UK has a special significance for Stanley, whose father suffered from the disease many years ago. Despite being given just six months to live, his father survived another 12 years.
Stanley believes his father's life was extended thanks to an operation he had at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
Since then he and Noreen, a retired nutrition and hygiene lecturer, have worked tirelessly to raise money for Cancer Research UK, placing collection boxes in shops and businesses, arranging fundraising events, and persuading volunteers to take on various challenges such as parachute jumps and even swimming in a tank of sharks.
Stanley and Noreen married in St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, in 1957, and the pair have been active members of the parish since.
Dean John Mann told the Belfast Telegraph: "Stanley McIlroy has been involved in St Anne's for decades and has been of immense service not only to the cathedral but beyond.
"We're very aware that he has been raising money for charity - and very large amounts of it - for a long time.
"This is a person who thoroughly deserves recognition for the works he's done, both at the cathedral and in the community."
Rev Ronald Lawrenson, who has known Stanley for almost 60 years, added: "He's raised thousands of pounds for the cathedral and was on the cathedral board for about 30 years."
Referring to the MBE, he said: "We're all thrilled, and he was out of his mind with delight.
"It should have happened years ago.
"Not many people raise a million pounds for charity."
He described Stanley as "charming, full of fun and very outgoing".
"Stanley is the kind of person who would go on holiday and know everybody in the hotel before he had his dinner," he added.
Cancer Research UK also praised Stanley for his dedication. "Everyone at Cancer Research UK is delighted that Stanley will receive his well-deserved honour in recognition of the amazing contribution he has made to our work over the last 30 years," a spokesman for the charity said.
"Stanley's passion and dedication, combined with the support of people in the local community in Belfast, has helped to raise an incredible sum of money which is helping us to save more lives and to beat cancer sooner.
"We would like to sincerely thank Stanley for his continued support and to congratulate him on this very special occasion."